“I waited for two and a half years for Kohlie. During that time, I was essentially house bound unless someone else accompanied me. My primary exercise comes from walking, but it was impossible without a service dog. Now, Kohlie and I go everywhere together. She gave me the freedom to be independent. She gave me my life back.” – Natalie, teamed with Kohlie in 2013
Natalie has a very rare auto-immune disorder that causes blood clots. It took some months to be diagnosed and in that time it did substantial damage both physically and cognitively. She holds a doctorate from Ohio State, but these impairments prevented her from continuing her career. It was devastating to be smart and quick one day and unable to keep up the next.
While she realizes she is fortunate to be alive, Natalie experienced multiple brain infractions that impacted her spatial orientation and balance. Kohlie provides brace and balance for her. She also retrieves anything that drops so that Natalie can avoid leaning over to pick things up.
She lives alone, but with Kohlie she was able to visit her daughter in California, a trip that would have been impossible without her. Together, they flew and Kohlie was perfect the entire trip. She was able to scrunch under the seat on the plane and fall asleep. Then, in August of 2014 her daughter and granddaughter were able to take a mega road trip. They drove the entire east coast. Kohlie made it possible and was so tolerant of the long hours in the car.
Natalie would like to emphasize that trained dogs from FSD are from shelters. Many from bad situations, adults that are passed over by folks who want to adopt a puppy. Kohlie actually whelped puppies and they were all adopted, but no one wanted mom. Freedom Service Dogs identified that she would be a great service dog candidate and now, Natalie cannot imagine her life without her.